A new research paper published in the American Journal of Political Science has argued that areas of close proximity to the 2019 Pulwama attack and its victims saw a drop in support for the Bharatiya Janata Party following the attacks. The authors used "granular booth-level data on electoral outcomes and village-level data" to assess how support for the BJP - widely believed to have increased after the attacks and the government response - fared in the period following the tragedy.
Milan Vaishnav, a senior fellow and director of the South Asia Program at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Jamie Hintson, junior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, jointly wrote the research paper titled: "Who Rallies Around the Flag? Nationalist Parties, National Security, and the 2019 Indian Election".
"...Proximity to the Pulwama victims' funeral processions substantially 'reduced' BJP support in areas where it was the incumbent," Vaishnav wrote in the paper. "Our effects cannot be explained by prior electoral behavior, spatial correlation or personal connections to victims...While several mechanisms could be at work, the preponderance of available evidence points to anti-incumbent blame as the principal driver [behind the presumed fall in BJP support]."
The paper's findings have been dismissed by BJP spokesperson Gopal Krishna Agarwal who was quoted by the Hindustan Times as saying that such "sweeping conclusions" could not be made from a single study. Although the Pulwama Attack had caused a negative impact, the Narendra Modi government's prompt action had instilled confidence in the people, he said.